Funding for public defenders, punishing docs for treating trans kids, energy infrastructure and a cracker plant

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    Catching Our Eye:

    Public defenders. The Akron Beacon Journal’s Stephanie Warsmith is reporting, “Increased state funding addresses strain on Ohio’s public defenders.”

    “For many years, (Summit County Assistant Public Defender Susan Manofsky) and Summit County’s 11 other public defenders have provided legal defense for thousands of people who can’t afford an attorney, while making far less than the prosecutors they face off against and juggling caseloads much larger than recommended. At $40,000, the starting annual salary in the Summit County office has long been the lowest of any public defender’s office in Ohio.

    “That soon will change. Thanks to an increase in funds from the state, Summit is among many counties across Ohio that have committed to — or are considering — a larger investment in indigent defense this year, including in central Ohio…

    “Gov. Mike DeWine, at the urging of local government leaders, championed a higher commitment to indigent defense, which was then included in the two-year state budget. The state plans to increase the reimbursement to counties from 40% to 70% this year and to 90% next year.”

    Doctors with orders. Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jackie Borchardt is reporting, “Ohio bill would punish doctors who help transgender kids transition.

    “A new Ohio bill seeks to restrict gender-identity medical treatments for transgender youth by penalizing the doctors who prescribe them.

    “Republican Reps. Ron Hood of Ashville and Bill Dean of Xenia plan to introduce the “Protect Vulnerable Children Act” this week.”

    Modern times. Ohio Public Radio’s Andy Chow is reporting, “Legislative Leader Says Ohio Energy Law Is ’20 Years Behind’.”

    “Grid modernization can be an umbrella term for a number of topics related to the way electricity is delivered from the power plant to a home or business.

    “New technologies in this field continue to develop, such as new control systems or battery storage. House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) said it’s up to the legislature to make sure these new breakthroughs can fit into Ohio’s code…

    “‘We’re 20 years behind in what we should do as far as laws to allow their life to be better and to properly utilize the electricity that we have in this state,’ Householder said.”

    Time to get crackin’? The Wheeling News-Register’s Jennifer Compston-Strough is reporting, “Gov. DeWine Confident Proposed Cracker Coming.”

    “Gov. Mike DeWine believes the multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant proposed for Belmont County will be built.

    “DeWine responded to questions from The Times Leader and the AP regarding the potential for the plant to be built and about how related environmental concerns are being addressed.

    “‘I think the plant will be built,’ DeWine said.

    “He added that he had met recently with ‘key officials’ from PTT Global Chemical LLC and Daelim Chemical USA LLC, the firms partnering on the project. He said those talks occurred ‘within the last month’ but did not reveal details of those discussions.

    “‘They have invested a lot of money,’ DeWine added. The developers have purchased about 500 acres of land, including the former R.E. Burger power plant site for $13 million, and have invested tens of millions more in engineering and site preparation work. ‘I don’t have a crystal ball, but I am optimistic.’”

    David C. DeWitt
    David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.